Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police

Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police

Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police

Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police

Synopsis

Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Among her books are The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania and Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture.

Excerpt

The end of Soviet-style socialism brought into public awareness a set of archives whose makers had never imagined that they would be revealed: the archives of the communist-era secret police in Eastern Europe. the archives soon entered into the political process of “decommunization,” used to prove whether one or another citizen had collaborated with the police and might thus be unsuitable for public office in a postsocialist polity. Made accessible to varying degrees in the formerly socialist countries, the archives also attracted researchers eager to explore these extraordinary sources in order to understand better the workings of socialism. a third use emerged as well: in some countries, people who had been the objects of surveillance could see their own files, to generally painful effect.

Each of these purposes—political, research, and personal—involved potential revisions of history in . . .

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